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The Real Enid Blyton (Paperback)

Social History Women of History 20th Century Biographies Literary Figures

By Nadia Cohen
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 168
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399077446
Published: 30th October 2022


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She is the most prolific children’s author in history, but Enid Blyton is also the most controversial. A remarkable woman who wrote hundreds of books in a career spanning forty years, even her razor sharp mind could never have predicted her enormous global audience. Now, fifty years after her death, Enid remains a phenomenon, with sales outstripping every rival.

Parents and teachers lobbied against Enid’s books, complaining they were simplistic, repetitive and littered with sexist and snobbish undertones. Blatant racist slurs were particularly shockingly; foreign and working class characters were treated with a distain that horrifies modern readers. But regardless of the criticism, Enid worked until she could not physically write another word, famously producing thousands of words a day hunched over her manual typewriter.

She imaged a more innocent world, where children roamed unsupervised, and problems were solved with midnight feasts or glorious picnics with lashings of ginger beer. Smugglers, thieves, spies and kidnappers were thwarted by fearless gangs who easily outwitted the police, while popular schoolgirls scored winning goals in nail-biting lacrosse matches.

Enid carefully crafted her public image to ensure her fans only knew of this sunny persona, but behind the scenes, she weaved elaborate stories to conceal infidelities, betrayals and unconventional friendships, lied about her childhood and never fully recovered from her parent’s marriage collapsing. She grew up convinced that her beloved father abandoned her for someone he loved more, and few could ever measure up to her impossible standards.

A complex and immature woman, Enid was plagued by insecurities and haunted by a dark past. She was prone to bursts of furious temper, yet was a shrewd businesswoman years ahead of her time. She may not have been particularly likeable, and her stories infuriatingly unimaginative, but she left a vast literary legacy to generations of children.

As featured in

International Express 25/9/19

As seen in

Daily Express, 28th August 2019

This biography is a really fascinating read.

Read the full review here

Shiny New Books

As featured by

Evergreen, December 2018

As featured by

Antiques Diary, January/February 2019

Article: Not just lashings of ginger beer - new book reveals 'the real Enid Blyton' born in East Dulwich as featured by

Southwark News (print & online), 14/15th November 2018

Cohen’s biography of this popular, contentious children’s author is easy to read and follow, detailed and draws from a variety of sources, including from Blyton’s daughters, Gillian and Imogen Pollock.

Read the full review here

Rosemarie Cawkwell, Blogger

Having been a life-long fan of Enid Blyton’s children’s stories, I was fascinated to read more about the woman who practically invented this genre of youth fiction... If you have ever read any of Enid Blyton’s books, or want to know more about the woman behind them, this biography will be just right for you.

Lucy London War Poets

Article: 'Enid's secret lives' as featured by

Dorset Echo (print), 28th August 2018 – words by Faith Eckersall

Article: 'New Enid Blyton biography serves up lashings of dark detail' as featured by

Dorset Echo (online), 28th August 2018 – words by Diarmuid MacDonagh

Article: 'The frivolous children's book author' as featured by

Berliner Morgenpost, 28th August 2018

Article as featured by

BILD am Sonntag, 26th August 2018

Article: 'New book reveals writer's dark side' as featured by

Daily Echo (Bournemouth), 23rd August 2018 - words by Faith Eckersall

As featured in

The Irish Mail 19/8/18

As featured in

Mail on Sunday 19/8/18

About Nadia Cohen

Nadia Cohen is an entertainment journalist who has worked at a number of national newspapers and magazines including Grazia and the Daily Mail. As a show-business correspondent she covered film festivals, premieres and award ceremonies around the world. Nadia was headhunted for the launch of a new American magazine, In Touch Weekly, and spent several years living and working in New York. She now lives in London and juggles family life with writing contemporary and historical biographies.

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